Most New Zealand employers are planning to hold their staff numbers steady until sufficient signs emerge of an economic uplift, a recruitment survey says.
The latest Hudson Report Employment Trends survey found only three out of 10 employers intended to increase their permanent staff in the next quarter, despite 70 per cent of them feeling more confident about the state of the economy.
"What we're finding is there's a lag between how [employers] are feeling and their intentions to increase the headcount in their organisations," said Roman Rogers, executive general manager of recruitment firm Hudson New Zealand.
"What's happening overseas is having an impact on local business decisions, whether it be Europe or the eastern seaboard of Australia, which hasn't been benefiting from the mining boom."
The survey also found a quarter of companies that were taking on new staff believed they had introduced more stringent processes to ensure they hired the right candidates.
But the kind of techniques being used, such as more senior involvement in the selection process and a higher number of interviews with preferred candidates, could be ineffective.
Rogers said employers needed to focus on "behavioural and motivational attributes" - including openness to change and the ability to be resilient when faced with setbacks - in order to improve hiring decisions.
According to the survey, hiring intentions in the South Island are strong, with 52.2 per cent of employers planning to take on new permanent staff during the next quarter.
Small and medium-sized firms had the most positive hiring expectations, with more than a third of such companies intending to take on new employees.
* Seven out of 10 employers optimistic about the economy.
* Only three out of 10 employers plan to increase staff levels in coming quarter.
* South Island seeing strong growth in recruitment, with 52.2 per cent of employers planning to hire new workers during the next quarter.